What Family Rifts at Funerals can Teach Us About Pardoning Presidents

Exhibit A of Step Two Behavior

Watching the coverage of the death of Elizabeth II, two questions seem to be on a constant loop. The first is political: “How will Charles change the monarchy?” The second is personal: “Will the funeral heal the rift between Harry and William/Charles/the rest of the family?” The discussions that follow, between television anchors, reporters, and “royal watchers” have provided me with great amusement. “Oh look: Charles said something nice about Harry and Meghan in his first broadcast after the Queen’s death! Perhaps all is well again!!” The wishfulness of the discussion — “Surely the funeral of their beloved mother/grandmother will bring the family together, and they can heal from the past unpleasantness” — says much more about the hopes that these media folks have and much less about the reality of how a family torn apart acts as a family funeral approaches.

As a pastor for more than three decades, I’ve never done a royal funeral, but I’ve done plenty of regular funerals, including those of matriarchs who had presided over a divided family. Most of the time, what I’ve seen is that either (a) the family members manage to sit on their frustrations with one another for a week or so as the funeral goes forward, and then they return to their earlier fighting, or (b) the funeral intensifies the fighting, as they argue about the decisions made around the funeral itself. Occasionally, the funeral does help to begin a healing process, as folks who have not seen “those monsters” in years are now in the same room for the first time again, and they realize that these other folks aren’t the monsters they have seen them to be in the past. It doesn’t happen five minutes after the burial, but with a willingness to work on both sides, healing is possible. But it sure isn’t the magic “If only Harry and William can sit next to each other at the funeral, everything will be fixed!” that so many commentators are looking for.

Which brings me to the other crazy question I’ve seen popping up more and more often between anchors, reporters, and political pundits. This is the question posed by Chuck Todd that NBC chose to highlight as they tease the Meet The Press interview with VP Kamala Harris that airs in full tomorrow:

Let me try to go to 60,000 feet. What do you say to the argument that it would be too divisive to the country to prosecute a former president?

Earth to Chuck Todd, and anyone else who asks this question: the country *is* deeply divided already.

Giving Trump a pass to “avoid division” is like that scenario (a) at the family funeral, except you are betting that everyone can sit on their frustrations not for a week but forever. Turning the question around — “Would it be too divisive to the country to give a former president a pass for illegal behavior?” — ought to make it clear how silly both questions are.

Step One in dealing with divisions — either at a family funeral or in national politics — is admitting your family/nation is already divided.

As an interim pastor, I work with congregations whose previous pastor has left. Maybe that pastor retired, died, took a new call elsewhere, or was run out of town on a rail. One of the things I often have to help the congregation deal with is conflict, either between the old pastor and the members, or between the members themselves. Whenever I hear “Yes, we had divisions, but now that the old pastor is gone, everything is just fine now” I have to figure out how get them to pull their heads out of the sand. “What’s going to happen when you disagree with your next pastor?” I ask them, knowing that for the immediate future, I am that next pastor. “What do you have to say to the folks around here who loved that old pastor and blame you for running that pastor off?”

Within the House of Windsor, simply coming up with the right seating chart at the funeral for Elizabeth will not wash away the pain that led the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to withdraw from royal duties and decamp to the US. Similarly, pardoning Trump, either by choosing not to prosecute or by an act of President Biden, will not heal the nation either.

What *will* help both the House of Windsor and the United States is to admit that divisions already exist.

Step Two in dealing with divisions, then, is to explore that divided reality. What, specifically, does that painful divided reality look like? What are the presenting issues, that anyone can see at the surface? What are the underlying issues, that lie deeper down, at the heart of the trouble? What are the triggers, that bring all that buried pain out into the open again? How is everyone being hurt by these divisions?

Looking at all that is not easy. It requires a willingness to dig into a painful past, to admit to past bad behavior (your own as well as that of others), and to accept just how bad things have gotten for everyone involved. Until you do that, all you are doing is papering over division and pretending things aren’t that bad.

In the US, the arguments about race and the causes of the Civil War are a perfect illustration of this. So long as a non-trivial part of the country denies that the Civil War was about slavery (“it was the war of Northern Aggression, fought over state’s rights”), our country will never be able to fully deal with how race continues to divide our country today. If you don’t think racism divides our country today, please go back to step one and try again.

Only when the divided congregation or family or nation has done the hard work of examining its own ugly past are they ready to move to Step Three.

Step Three is to look at what you’d like the future to be. What would a healthy House of Windsor look like? How would members treat one another, in ways that are different than what caused the fractures in the past? What would a healthy United States of America look like? How would those with different political views treat one another, in ways that are different from what caused the fractures in the past?

Step Four, then, is to figure out how to get to that future. That’s a conversation about rules, roles, and responsibilities, with unstated assumptions put out in the open and mixed expectations clarified. It’s about crafting behavior that rebuild trust, dignity, and belonging for everyone involved.

The big lesson in all of this is that THERE IS NO SHORTCUT.

You can’t just jump to step four, without doing all the work of the other three steps. You can try, but you’re just sticking your fingers in your ears and singing “La la la – I can’t hear you.” You don’t need to take my word for this. Just look at the House of Windsor.

When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were leaving their royal roles behind, that was Step One behavior. “Our family is painfully divided.” No more smiling masks, no more pretending all is well, and no more trying to ignore the pain.

When they sat down for their interview with Oprah, that was Step Two behavior. “Here’s what happened, at least from our point of view.”

Ever since then, the royal family had various private conversations to sort things out further, including such things as whether Harry and Meghan would be part of the Platinum Jubilee celebration last summer. (The answers at that time were that they were included in small family gatherings, but not the big public ones.) Now they are having similar conversations around the Queen’s funeral and the coming coronation ceremony that will follow in a few months. This is all Step Three and Step Four behavior.

To the extent that things are getting better for the House of Windsor, it’s because they’ve been working hard at Steps One through Three, not that they simply came together magically at a funeral and jumped to Step Four.

The US political press and political actors could learn a lot from the House of Windsor. Those who worry about prosecuting a past president need to recognize that this doesn’t cause division, but is a step along the way to healing – part of the hard work of Step Two that explores the divided reality in all its painful, ugly depth. The work of the January 6 Committee in the House of Representatives is Step Two behavior, and so is the work of the DOJ to investigate possible criminal behavior of the former president and his minions.

Until we as a nation are willing to honestly look at our ugly reality, we will never heal.


71 replies
  1. Zinsky says:

    Very nicely written piece – I like it a lot. Being a pastor, you have seen first-hand how difficult family relationships can be to develop, hold, maintain and repair. There is no more difficult endeavor, even for the smartest or most clever among us. I suspect America’s divisions are deeper than politics. As I get older, I see more clearly how racism has so deeply scarred American society, and to your point, we have never healed completely from the Civil War. However, your post is a good starting point and a template for moving us forward – thanks so much for that!

  2. MB says:

    I hope Kamala has a snappy answer to Chuck’s 60,000-foot question. Maybe he needs to go to an elevation higher than 60,000 to ask the right questions.

  3. Pete T says:

    One of the most insightful posts here at EW – and there have been many.

    When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were leaving their royal roles behind, that was Step One behavior. “Our family is painfully divided.” No more smiling masks, no more pretending all is well, and no more trying to ignore the pain.

    I have to ponder what our nation’s precipitating event might be. Was the past Civil War of the 1860s such an event. We still seem to suffer with deep divisions from that precipitating event?

    I am genuinely curious. Perhaps and hopefully not a bloody event

  4. bbleh says:

    Apart from fatuous comments by media performers, I don’t think there’s much pretending in the US that divisions don’t exist. We have an unusually large and well-developed authoritarian movement in our politics, and “us/them” is a central (some say THE central) organizing principle of such movements. And I think those not part of that movement (including but not limited to its targets) may have been slower to recognize the divisions and to abandon illusions of “comity” and reasoned dialogue, but the last decade or two have stripped off the veils pretty thoroughly. We know we’re divided, we know what the sides are, and all but the dimmest of us know which side we’re on.

    It’s Step Two that’s the challenge for us. And as the post mentions, a central component of it is racism, in all its manifestations and entanglements (unfortunately including religious ones), and there, Houston, we have a problem, because one side is unbudgingly wedded to the idea that racism is not a problem at all. The very word has become a conjuring-word, one that immediately drowns any discussion in a flood of (often resentful) emotion, shuts down any possibility of substantive dialogue, and can actually deepen the divide.

    How we get beyond THAT, other than perhaps waiting for the pre-Civil-Rights era to pass from living memory, I have no idea.

    • eyesoars says:

      I can think of quite a few extended family members who insist insist insist that there is no racism in this country. Naturally, most of them are quite racist GOP voters, and can’t/refuse to accept that many policies in this country are racist, and that historical racism continues to cast a very long shadow.

    • TXphysicist says:

      >> all but the dimmest of us know which side we’re on.

      Totally. Here in the USA, I’ve never heard an everyman “moderate” come off as remotely intelligent. Not even once. It’s always a wishy-washy “Oh well you’ll have to woo me” attempt at political courtship.

      My perception is that the UK is the next closest western democracy to the USA’s paradigm, followed closely by Australia. Rankings are debatable, but almost everyone seems to be getting pulled generally rightward.

      I’m not sure if it’s the nature of the profit-driven internet monoliths, or how the internet has been intentionally weaponized against liberalism (and I do NOT secretly mean neo-liberalism, David Brooks), but I still have no idea how to combat the rightward tug.

      All this, on top of your prudent observation that we have one political party so privileged that they can comfortably deny the latent racism festering in our society. “I don’t really know what it means, but critical race theory is a lie, and I’ll prove it by using the power of the state to suppress anything remotely related to it”.

      Unless we find a way to productively disrupt the current information ecosystem, we’re headed for certain calamity. And fast. Ratio’ing people on twitter ain’t cuttin’ it.

    • S.Chepaitis says:

      Except for the fact that hate and fear are passed down generationally. They remain buried in dark corners of the psyche waiting to be triggered by just the right stimulus. Would be dictators always seem to know what will trigger this and Trump is no exception to that rule. As this excellent essay brings out, they won’t go away until they are brought into the light of day and confronted. It is a painful but necessary process.

    • timbo says:

      I disagree with this assessment. There are plenty of bright people here just trying to live their lives and get by. The thing is this? What will it take for them to take notice of all the problems around them? Will it be homelessness of themselves or a relative? Discovering that their pension fund has been raided and gutted? Illegally detained by police for no rational reason? Those problems have been becoming more and more endemic in some parts of the country…but still, by and large, the US is an orderly place that folks still rely on for stability…even if the evidence for growing instability is all around them.

      • bbleh says:

        To be clear, I’m not saying we’re all at swords’ point. I agree entirely that, except perhaps for western Europe nowadays, there is no more stable and orderly place on the planet (or in history, for that matter), and FWIW the world’s people agree based on where they stash their money.

        But at the same time, I don’t think there’s much anybody who doesn’t know whether they live in a “blue” or “red” place, nor whether they consider themselves aligned or not with the local sentiment, even if it might take a little truth serum to get them to say so. I’d guess pretty much everyone still agrees that the power and water should stay on, the roads should be kept in repair, and Medicare should keep paying older folks’ medical bills, but dig into any issue regarding, say, taxation, or civil rights, or the role of religion or policing, and consensus breaks down very quickly, and alas, increasingly with it the confidence in democratically based political methods to work through the differences. And driving this is an attitude that one’s opponents have no political legitimacy, and underlying THAT are attitudes about race (and sex). And that’s the nut that needs cracked.

  5. Jim Luther says:

    As a pastor, you are very well positioned to understand that the divisions run far, far deeper than slavery or the Civil War / War of Northern Aggression. We have evolved a new religion that is very much in conflict with Christianity – whether Christianity is defined by historical norms, or by current worldwide norms. Quite simply, we are in a religious war, and the political conflict is simply a reflection of that underlying conflict. Evangelicals, an extremist segment of Catholics, and white supremacists are the base. They skillfully use fear of the inevitable collapse of non-sustainable industries to augment their numbers, but make no mistake – this war is yet another religious war. I suggest you take a look at the demographics of the support.

        • vvv says:

          I’m a big fan of Steve Wynn (Baseball Project, Dream Syndicate, etc.) who named his last SW & the Miracle Three album, “Northern Aggression” because it was recorded in Richmond and he said the studio staff constantly teased the band about being invading Yankees.

          I did not know it was a descriptive still used in school for what I was taught (in Chicago) to call, “The Civil War”, altho’ I have also heard, “The War Between the States” used in Texas.

  6. Drew says:

    This accords with my experience. Good article. One element of “step two” for the United States, that’s seldom addressed is that virtually no White people realize the depth and extent of racism in the United States. I had little real appreciation of this until I had worked in a Black congregation for some time. The ways in which we seek to protect ourselves from culpability and portray ourselves (at least to ourselves) as blameless do a lot to keep the cycle of racism going. Condescension, ignoring the contributions and opinions of people of color, and seeking to be the “white savior” with solutions unasked for keep unhealthiness and lack of trust going in all our communities.

    That interacts with the bold, cruel and hyper-toxic racism that we see in the GOP and makes resolution of our problems more intractable. Whatever the problems that the Windsors have between them, the United States is in a much worse state.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Chuck Todd’s question is based on two falsehoods. The first is his assumption that the GOP remains a normal, democracy-supporting party, whose disagreements with the Democrats are limited to modest differences over policies and budgets. The second is that if only the Democrats (but not Republicans) would alter their conduct, they would succeed in avoiding division.

    Both of Todd’s assumptions are false. The GOP no longer believes in democratic governance, because it cannot ensure its permanent victory. It will thwart any process that denies it control, and embrace any lie, personality, or conduct that ensures it. Within that framework, no concession or appeasement, no abandonment of long-held Democratic goals or acceptance of Republican aims, would avoid division. Nothing will satiate the GOP’s hunger for singular control, in order to remake America into a white, male, christianist, authoritarian society.

    • ScorpioJones, III says:

      I find your assumptions about Todd’s assumptions interesting. It is the function of journalists in interviews to ask questions that may seem dumb to the viewer in order to elicit a response from the subject, and may or may not, reflect the actual opinion of the questioner. This blog exists to exercise opinion, learned opinion, most assuredly, but opinion nonetheless. I suppose it is possible participants here assume everything they read or see in the MSM is the same. It most assuredly is not. The continuing ignorance of how journalists work at their craft is at the root of the problem.

      • MB says:

        Seems to me that if the journalists are not independent or freelance, that they are beholden to the journalistic “standards” of their employers. All of the anchors at corporate networks work with producers behind the scenes who shape what questions are asked, how topics are covered or ignored etc. So while reporters may “seem to ask dumb questions in order to elicit a response”, that’s within the framework of how much leeway producers give to anchors, and how much leeway corporate bosses give to their producers. And anchors/reporters who have opinions or questions that are “too pointed” and are at odds with the corporate bosses either quit, get fired, or demoted to time slots with lesser audience viewing. I’m thinking of MSNBC anchors over the years who have run afoul of their employers such as Phil Donahue, Keith Olbermann (who “discovered” Rachel Maddow), Ed Schutz, Cenk Uygur, Dylan Ratigan etc. etc.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        “Interesting” has many meanings, illustrated by Mr. Spock having used it with more variations than a McDonald’s “Thank you.” What you meant was that you objected to my criticism of Mr. Todd, because he based his question on falsehoods.

        You based your objection on his supposedly having a duty to ask open-ended questions, with the intent that the answers would more easily educate uninformed viewers. Does that include using falsehoods to frame them?

        If only Mr. Todd were a journalist, If only he followed the examples of Mehdi Hasan or Alex Wagner. We might wish for that Mr. Todd, but it’s not the one we have. If he were, he would have asked his question more openly, without his false framing, and without telegraphing the demeaning-to-Democrats answer he wanted.

        • timbo says:

          Indeed. It’s not necessary to continue to coddle these wannabe fascists. At least some in the media, those who are concerned about preserving the ability to actually have a free and violence free discourse in a pluralistic democratic society basically, are now no longer pulling punches or coddling the Big Liars. Mr. Todd is still coddling them.

      • Bruce Olsen says:

        ” I suppose it is possible participants here assume everything they read or see in the MSM is the same.”

        There are unenlightened folks everywhere, but not many of them comment here. It’s pretty obvious, actually.

  8. Alan Charbonneau says:

    On the Colbert show, John Oliver predicted trouble with the royals right before the royal wedding. He said Meghan Markle should watch Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ before she marries into an ’emotionally stunted group of fundamentally flawed people doing a very silly pseudo-job’

    Feb 18, 2018: John Oliver Warns Meghan Markle What She’s Getting Herself Into

  9. Ed Walker says:

    As I see it, there are divisions, but we need to remember how they come to exist. Sure we haven’t come to grips with racism, the original sin of this country. But we were making progress in the 50s and 60s. Many of us point to the Republicans as the cause of the backlash.

    But there was big money behind the Repubs. Really big money. Oil money from Texas. Finance money from all over. Corporate money. Koch money. Scaife money. Mercer money. Forbes money (especially BC and Steve). Publishing money.

    These people support, encourage, and justify racism in the US in exactly the same way the Nazis stirred up anti-Semitism, Europe’s original sin. (See generally The Origins Of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt.)

    Try to imagine discussing racism with people who have Fox News talking heads screeching in their brains. I can. That was my dad. You couldn’t talk to him about anything without him erupting in a fury.

    We, meaning people who still want out nation to live up to the ideals we learned as kids, are drowned out by the fascist rantings of Tucker Carlson echoing in the empty mindspaces of the Repub base.

    This is driven by the money of a bunch of filthy rich right-wing jerks who hate democracy because it threatens their wealth and power. This isn’t going to change while they are able to convert their wealth into power.

    • Peterr says:

      I hear you.

      I am not trying to say that these Four Steps are not simple or easy. They aren’t. But unless and until people are willing to go there — congregations, families, or nations — there will be no healing.

    • DrDoom says:

      This is an excellent post by Peterr and a thoughtful reply by Ed Walker. Expanding on Ed’s point, to what extent do any here see racism as a specific instance of granting privilege to property ownership over humanity, versus a distinct evil? I’m particularly interested in Rayne’s thoughts. One might argue that the RW is generally in favor of granting the owner class the authority to impose their will on others, with outside groups the most accessible and most obvious targets. I’ll call that the Neimeier view. The alternative view is that there is a special racial animus that runs deeper than contempt for working people. Of course, I oversimplify, and the GOP membership includes both plutocratic bullies who are generally indifferent to the culture wars and bigots who haven’t got a pot to piss in. The practical issue, as I see it, is to devise a way for those 2 broad categories to cease supporting each other. To that end, I think that devising popular actions, such as boycotts, that hit the moneyed class hard for supporting bigotry and anti-democratic practices is the most effective tactical approach. We must call out all the corporate and elite sponsorship of insurrectionists, forced birthers, and disenfranchisers, for starters.

    • TXphysicist says:


      And this is probably a surprise to no one, but my views posted here are very, VERY representative of all the other physicists I know. 90%+ or so.

      Conscious logical fallacy’ing, lol. Take it as you will

      • DrDoom says:

        Not a physicist but married to one. Agree with your informal poll result based on our circle of acquaintance, and extending to many other academic disciplines. IMO monopoly power has a great deal to do with the rightward tug you describe. Since the AT&T breakup, the USA had pretty much given up on antitrust enforcement, which seems to have been resurrected as a thing by the Biden administration following nearly 40 years of neglect. I consider that to be a good thing. The RW talks about the magic of free markets when concentration of market power is exactly the opposite of that. The RW goal is to give carte blanche to employers to bully their workers, set the terms of engagement for labor, and have big money assume the prerogatives of government. My shorthand is not neo-conservatism or neo-liberalism, but neo-feudalism. Wealth comes from being granted the power to extract economic rent. The extractive industries, big tech, banking, and big communications all enjoy this privilege and all want to keep it.

        • IdaLewis says:

          Agreed. I believe we need a moment of general reform, not unlike Teddy Roosevelt vs the robber barons (but in a less paternalistic way). We need monopoly reform, dark money reform, gerrymandering reform, educational reform, etc. in order to level up the playing field again. Warren and Schiff are thinking along these lines, the difficulty is in getting reform legally enacted. I confess I am feeling heartened about the midterms because of Kansas.

    • SlimSloSlider says:

      Genocide preceded racism.
      They subsequently danced in tandem.
      1,000,000 native Americans died in California between 1840 and 1900.

  10. osmosis says:

    I have to say, losing my mother and father over covid and having to deal with the family “baggage” as a result, this is a poignant and helpful post for me.

    Thank you Peterr

    • Peterr says:

      You’re welcome.

      I had more than a few funerals during the COVID era that magnified whatever family conflicts were already present.

      Peace to you and your family.

  11. Jan says:

    Nicolas Sarkozy was charged, found guilty. Twice. Why is Trump, or any former US president, a “sacred cow”? Isn’t that a fundamental problem for starters?

    • Nick Barnes says:

      America is a very deferential country. Witness the practice of referring to ex-office-holders by their erstwhile title: President Carter, Secretary Clinton, Admiral Mullen, etc. It’s weird to many non-Americans (including this one).

      • Rayne says:

        There’s a fundamental difference between deference to former US POTUS compared to persons of heritable title (and property): POTUS was elected by the people and served the people.

        Clinton has been a former senator and Secretary of State as well as former First Lady and POTUS candidate; she was elected by the people and served the people. Admiral Mullen earned his rank serving the nation not only as a military officer but as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff under GOP and Dem presidencies, overseeing a transition to a military ending closeted LGBTQ+ service; he may have been an appointee in his last role, but he had to earn the respect of two different administrations.

        None of them inherited deference through their titles. Furthermore, in Carter’s case, he has continued to earn the global public’s deference by his post-POTUS nonprofit work for election integrity and voting rights (Carter Center), and for housing the precarious (Habitat for Humanity).

        By comparison Donald Trump is a selfish waste of carbon molecules and his legacy will reflect it, in spite of +70M voters choosing him.

      • The Baffled King says:

        While I agree that the practice of referring to ex-office-holders by their erstwhile title is weird, I sharply disagree that America is a very deferential country. Moreover, we Britons should be among the last people on earth to label other nationalities as deferential, given our continuing elevation of those with hereditary titles.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        If that were a comment from a Brit, it would reflect a remarkable lack of knowledge about one’s own country and society.

        Few places on earth revere titles as much. Few observe its plethora of minute and severely guarded status gradations. Few go so far to protect the secrecy of its wealth, which is often tied to those titles and status. It’s an offense, for example, to wear even a school, university, or club tie – of which there are a surprising number – without the right to do so.

        • Nick Barnes says:

          If, by “an offense,” you mean “a criminal offence,” then I’m pretty certain that you are mistaken. Citation? There are weird freaky-ass corners of British society which might *take offence* at such a thing, but AFAIK none in which one might be arrested for it.
          And yes, I am British. People in this country don’t revere titles half as much as you imply.

        • Nick Barnes says:

          Of course, someone wearing an old school tie (etc) in pursuit of a fraud may be liable to prosecution *for the fraud*. But, then, fraud is also an offence elsewhere in the world, I have heard.
          Anyone insisting on their title at almost any social gathering is likely to be regarded as being “up themselves” and unlikely to be invited back. There are corners of society which accord deference, but they are pretty weird and rarefied places. The Lords I have known have certainly not used their titles in regular society. The only case I’ve heard of a Lord insisting on their title in recent years was Monckton, who has repeatedly made an ass of himself insisting on honorifics, to some of which the House of Lords themselves insist he is not entitled.
          As for money, well, both the US and the UK have serious social issues around deference to money.
          And I reiterate my first point, about former officials. None of our ex-Prime Ministers (of which I guess we have six living?) are ever described as “Prime Minister so-and-so” in our newspapers or other media, they are not introduced or addressed as such. They have all (they would claim) served their country honourably and well, but they walk away from the office back to regular Mr or Mrs, and quite right too.

  12. Jan says:

    Seems Malcolm X (finally), MLK, and more, came to the same conclusion. The truth, as brutal as it is, is the only weapon worth wielding.
    Nicolas Sarkozy was charged, found guilty. Twice. A former president. The world didn’t end. Maybe because presidents in some countries are just people, serving the people, and not “sacred cows”.

  13. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    In a nation of hospice caregivers, elder care facilities, and people who have to make tough decisions each day, it just feels as if Chuck Todd and his fellow travelers are making themselves more irrelevant by the week.

    I don’t know anyone who has not had to deal with loss, or with change. To act as if Americans are such snowflakes or wallflowers that we can’t witness the prosecution of a man who has clearly wrought damage to the nation is puerile, and embarrassing. I simply can’t watch such nonsense these days.

  14. Renee says:

    Hi Peter,
    I feel like we have lived parallel life lives – I too am an interim pastor (Presbyterian), with an undergrad degree in mathematical economics and a first career in government. Who knew there’d be another such rare bird!
    Love your analysis of division and calls for unity, and the whole royals family dynamic. I do think without the Queen the whole family system will have to adjust and it’s pretty early to see how everything will shake out.

    • Rayne says:

      You’d think by now Jake Tapper would have earned enough to retire and avoid utterly trashing what remains of his credibility.

  15. Bay State Librul says:

    On Chuck Todd

    My guess is that he might be picked up by CNN along with a journalist to be named later.

    “Both Sidism” and “Big Money”(corporations are people) are winning arguments for losers.

    We have arrived at Grand Central Station and need accountability for our trip home

  16. Hika says:

    Peter, I have nothing useful to add to the discussion here, but I wanted that thank you for writing such a thoughtful piece that links the dynamics of family and those of nationhood. It is one of the best things I’ve read this year.

  17. ScorpioJones, III says:

    Very much enjoyed your assessment of the difficulty of family dynamics, something I have dealt with for years. Your thoughts made me think, which I suppose is a positive impact.

  18. Jenny says:

    Beautifully stated. Thank you Peterr. Certainly, healthy for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to step out of the equation to take care of themselves. Distance can be a healer.

    “Emotional pain cannot kill you, but running from it can. Allow. Embrace. Let yourself feel. Let yourself heal.”
    ― Vironika Tugaleva

  19. Savage Librarian says:

    I’ve read that it was Charles who forced Elizabeth’s hand on Andrew. Maybe, maybe not. But action that had a semblance of appropriateness took years in the making, causing severe harm along the way. And one thing we’ve learned from Trump is that malignant narcissism does not have an easy or predictable resolution.

    Sometimes I think I have had more than my fair share of encounters with sociopaths. Nobody should be subject to any kind of propaganda that makes them feel cowed into believing they can negotiate any fair agreement with them on their own.

    Legal intervention is sometimes the best solution. But, absent that, on a personal level, if someone exhibits behavior that is detrimental to our well being, we can simply cut all ties with them. If they protest, stalk, etc., it can take a great deal of fortitude to endure until they eventually stop.

    Not long ago, a group of historians met with Biden to discuss their studies of fascism. I imagine they had some recommendations for him. Maybe that is what prompted his comment about the “semi-fascist” MAGA Republicans.

    A psychologist once told me that some rifts never heal. I think it might be similar to the grief of loss we experience when a loved one dies. Both are isolated to memory. One we cherish and the other we either try to forget or find a productive way to use the knowledge we learned to help others now and in the future.

    As a nation, I think we have begun to isolate the sociopathic behavior that has rendered us immobile for so long. Now we have already set our sights on the path and are moving one step at a time to a better outcome. To paraphrase Peterr and Shaye Moss (when speaking about her beloved grandmother,) “We like to get our steps in.”

  20. pdaly says:

    Here’s a link to the JFK Presidential Library annual ceremony honoring the five recipients of the Profile in Courage Award for 2022.
    (Wandrea’ ArShaye Moss, Rep. “Rusty” Bowers, Rep. Liz Cheney, MI Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson, and Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy)

    It was held in May 2022 which was a month before Wandrea’ ArShaye Moss testified live before the J6 Committee.

    Liz Cheney mentioned that a speech JFK gave inspired a 20-something-year old Dick Cheney to enter public service. Liz said aloud what I was thinking and I’m paraphrasing, ‘so blame JFK if you didn’t like my father’s policies.’

    All four of the American recipients defended our democracy by countering Trump and his angry minions in the aftermath of Trump’s blowout 2020 election loss. I hope there are Trump indictments. I hope there are no pardons.

    • bmaz says:

      Rusty Bowers is still one of the biggest pieces of shit in Arizona history. Cheney not far behind for the country. May they both rot in hell.

      • pdaly says:

        I think of the Frodo and Gandalf lines (I should check if in the book, too, or just movie):

        Frodo: ‘It’s a pity Bilbo didn’t kill Gollum when he had the chance.’
        Gandalf: ‘Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play in it, for good or evil, before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.’

        If they have more parts to play, let it be in service of the country… and then be off with them!

  21. FredericoR says:

    Thanks, Peterr, for your wise and clear invitation to understand that the process of healing from such deep psychosocial divisions, developed over centuries, requires distinct steps–and that there’s no quick resolution. For many white people, it can take years to move past some of the denial, and just to begin to listen and learn about the multigenerational impacts of slavery, the Jim Crow era, and ongoing racist behaviors at the individual and institutional levels on the minds and hearts–not just of African Americans, but all of us.

    As a bicultural (Puerto Rican/white) clinical social worker attempting to address some of this pain in myself, and with my own African-American clients, I know it’s not easy–but it’s essential to start re-connecting with the truth of our historical and ongoing experiences, individually and collectively. Joy DeGruy’s “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome–America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing” is helpful.

    Thanks to everyone contributing to this dialogue.

  22. Spencer Dawkins says:

    Peterr, I admire your writings, but I didn’t know anything about you before you wrote this post.

    Every point you made matches my (much more limited) experience about congregations changing pastors, and about any group of people that has “irreconcilable differences” – but can’t divorce the parts of the group they can’t live with, so really has to either reconcile or die. .

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

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